How to Sew a Sweater Using Knitted Fabrics
Although I know how to knit, I don’t practice it much and have never really progressed beyond the basics. When it comes to knitting, I basically admire and appreciate what others can do. However, I love the coziness and comfort of sweaters, and I fell in love recently with a sweater from the Etro Spring 2014 Collection that I saw on Style.com. This sweater is loosely knit with a basic stockinette stitch, but it would still take me awhile to knit one with a similar feel and get it to fit just right. So I decided to stick to what I do best and sew a sweater instead of knitting it.
I had a piece of wool sweater knit I used a couple of years ago to create a dress for an article called “Material Mix“, which appeared in Threads #164 (January/February 2013). My inspiration sweater, however, has stripes of different colors, so I needed more than one fabric. I remembered a scarf I knitted awhile back from a wool tape yarn that hadn’t turned out as planned. It was too narrow and way too long, but its variegated colors blended perfectly with the sweater knit. And the primitive knitting skills I used to create the scarf had created just the texture I was looking for. The Etro sweater has some sheer sections as well and, although I toyed with the idea of using a sheer woven fabric cut on the bias to mimic that effect, I eventually settled on just using the sweater knit fabric and the scarf.
Here is the sweater knit fabric and a scarf I was willing to repurpose were the perfect materials for my project.
I connected the scarf sections to the lower edge of the sweater and the sleeve cuffs by overlapping and hand-sewing in place. I had some of the tape yarn leftover from the original project. I used it, together with a tapestry needle, to whipstitch the sections together. A tapestry needle has a large eye and a blunt point so it doesn’t pierce the fabric.
Use a tapestry needle to hand-sew the two fabrics together.
Before cutting the scarf, I hand-sewed two parallel rows at the cutting line to secure the knit stitches so they wouldn’t ravel.
To prevent raveling, secure the knit stitches before cutting.
I sewed the shoulder, side, and sleeve seams by machine using a narrow zigzag stitch and finished each seam with a second row of slightly wider zigzag stitches right next to the first. Then I trimmed away the excess seam allowance. This mimics a French seam, but has much less bulk.
A whipstitch and the tape yarn make a smooth connection between the two pieces.
To finish the neckline, I staystitched the neck edge first by machine, 1/2-inch from the raw edge, turned it in along the stitching, and pressed.
Staystitch the neckline and turn the edge under at the stitching to stabilize the edge and minimize stretching.
Then, I bound the edge with a whipstitch using the tape yarn.
The tape yarn, secured with a hand stitch, creates the perfect finish for the overall organic look I was hoping to achieve.
Have you ever sewed a sweater or used a combination of knitting and sewing? If so, share your experiences below in the comments section.
A sewing machine and some hand stitches can make a sweater, too.